From Fighters to Avocado Farmers Former FARC Guerillas Find New Calling in Life in Colombia

In a commune that one psychologist calls “the jewel of the reintegration process,” former guerillas in Colombia have set up an avocado farm with global aspirations. Despite initial success, they are haunted by the ongoing threat of violence and death.
By Nicola Abé in Colombia
An ex-FARC fighter walks through the camp with his baby.

An ex-FARC fighter walks through the camp with his baby.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
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Farm director Jhan Carlos Moreno

Farm director Jhan Carlos Moreno

Foto: Nadège Mazars / DER SPIEGEL
Graffiti of the face of Che Guevara on the wall of a home in Caldono, Cauca, a province in southwestern Colombia

Graffiti of the face of Che Guevara on the wall of a home in Caldono, Cauca, a province in southwestern Colombia

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Former fighter Libia Stella Nene is in charge of the avocado plants.

Former fighter Libia Stella Nene is in charge of the avocado plants.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Ex-commander Julio Eduardo Gutierrez lost an eye and a hand when a landmine exploded beneath him.

Ex-commander Julio Eduardo Gutierrez lost an eye and a hand when a landmine exploded beneath him.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Jhan Carlos Moreno shows a photo of his wife and young son, who is being raised by his grandparents.

Jhan Carlos Moreno shows a photo of his wife and young son, who is being raised by his grandparents.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
The commune’s avocados are to be exported to Europe.

The commune’s avocados are to be exported to Europe.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
An indigenous woman near the farm at Caldono

An indigenous woman near the farm at Caldono

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Ex-fighters Katherine Rodriguez and Alba Valencia chat on their mobile phones. Valencia sees her six-year-old son only once a year, on his birthday.

Ex-fighters Katherine Rodriguez and Alba Valencia chat on their mobile phones. Valencia sees her six-year-old son only once a year, on his birthday.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Miller Fernandez: "In the jungle, you were always tense. Now, I relax and then the images come.”

Miller Fernandez: "In the jungle, you were always tense. Now, I relax and then the images come.”

Foto: Nadège Mazars / DER SPIEGEL
Libia Stella Nene and her boyfriend, Luis Eduardo Caso, in their bedroom, in front of wall photos of their time as FARC fighters in the jungle.

Libia Stella Nene and her boyfriend, Luis Eduardo Caso, in their bedroom, in front of wall photos of their time as FARC fighters in the jungle.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL
Cuba Atazú, 49, has spent virtually her entire life with FARC. She has four sons.

Cuba Atazú, 49, has spent virtually her entire life with FARC. She has four sons.

Foto: Federico Rios Escobar / DER SPIEGEL

This piece is part of the Global Societies series. The project runs for three years and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.